This exhibition uses artifacts, models, maps, interactives, videos, and more to help students learn about early polar exploration and the challenges of survival in Antarctica.|
The mean annual temperature at the South Pole is -49°C (-56°F), an environment so harsh that a small misstep can spell disaster. A century ago the margin of safety was even smaller.
2. First Glimpses
From the time of the early Greeks, people proposed the existence of a southern continent, perhaps habitable, perhaps a howling wasteland. Two hundred and fifty years ago men began braving the world's roughest waters to see for themselves.
3. The Race Begins
As the exploration of Antarctica captured the imagination of the British public, they clamored for Naval officer Robert Falcon Scott to claim the final frontier: the South Pole. At the same time, but in secret, veteran Arctic explorer Roald Amundsen set his sights on the prize for his native Norway.
4. Two Teams, One Goal
In January, 1911, the two parties set up very different base camps on opposite edges of the Ross Ice Shelf. There they spent ten months — four in utter darkness — and planned
their trips to the Pole.
5. To the Pole!
The austral summer (December to March) with its long days and somewhat warmer temperatures, was the only window for the grueling round-trip journey of 2,900 kilometers (1,800 mi). The explorers knew that every hour would count.
6. Back From the Pole
After reaching the Pole on December 14, 1911, one team hurried back to base camp. In contrast, the other team took a full month longer to reach their goal. Exhausted and starving, the men were still struggling back as the light began to dim and the weather to turn bitter cold.
7. Antarctica Today
Forty-eight nations are parties to the Antarctic Treaty agreeing to peaceful, scientific exploration of the continent. The continent's only long-term occupants — 4,000 in summer, 1,000 in winter — are researchers, students, and support staff.
for a printable version of this map (pdf)